The free edition of Visual Studio does have a resource editor.
It however does not support MFC or ATL.
So if you're trying to edit an MFC based on ATL based project, the resource editor would fail to load.
It refuses to access .rc (resource source-form) files, and thus I must edit my .rc files separately with a text-editor.
You get what you pay for, and in this case since it's free you don't get a resource editor. I find that I can manage quite well without one, although creating dialogs can be a little slow. If you want all the features of Visual Studio, including MFC, ATL etc then you need to buy one of the professional editions.
You could keep your ide and simply Google for resedit which is a compatible program that let's you edit resource files for visual studio projects. It is a bit tedious, but is a viable workaround which saves on a reinstall of visual studio, and you don't have to go messing with the project conversion wizard which pops up when using newer versions of v.s with older project files.